posted on May 16, 2011 17:54
Back in the salad days of the Roman Republic every now and then an absolutely vicious war would break out between the Roman Aristocrats and the Plebes and it looks like we’ve got a similar tussle on our hands here in Wake County.
Heart surgeries are among the most profitable operations hospitals perform – so when a fox from UNC Hospitals stole into WakeMed’s operating room and made off with a covey of its heart doctors Bill Atkinson, the head rooster at WakeMed, got hopping mad and declared he’d had enough of competing with a state hospital subsidized with taxpayers money.
So he set out to take away UNC Hospital’s subsidy.
I remember years ago hearing the farm boys and engineers at NC State mocking the “UNC blue-bloods” but there’s a grain of truth in their jibe: There’s a coterie of no longer young men who spent a happy part of their youth in Chapel Hill, and who adore anything with UNC in its name, who are as close to an aristocracy as we have here in North Carolina.
And the WakeMed Plebes, bent on taking away UNC Hospitals’ tax subsidy in retribution for making off with their heart doctors, have declared war on one of the Aristocrats’ beloved and long-nurtured institutions.
And the Plebes are winning.
Because after last fall’s election they figured out one important fact: That the UNC Aristocrats who’ve always worked hand-in-glove with the Democratic Establishment had just lost their clout in the legislature.
So the Plebes went to work earnestly making their case to Republican legislators and last week the House Republicans obliged them by cutting every penny of UNC Hopital’s $44 million state subsidy out of Governor Perdue’s budget.
Now the Plebes aren’t home free because the State Senate has yet to vote and UNC is sending the All-Stars of its Aristocracy to lobby the Senators and get back their hospital’s $44 million.
But for years the new Senate Republican Leaders have been sitting on the back benches watching the same UNC All-Stars cozy up to Marc Basnight and Tony Rand – so this time the Aristocrats may hit a rock.
Score Round One for the Plebes.